Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones vowed he and his team would show “grace” as he promised an open dialogue with his players about kneeling during the national anthem.
Jones has long insisted on his players standing for the anthem – “toes on the line,” as he previously put it – while the 77-year-old had threatened to bench any players who did not stand.
His latest comments came during his first news conference since George Floyd’s murder while in Minneapolis police custody in May and the ensuing protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
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“I have nothing to prove as far as where I’m standing with the flag and where the Cowboys stand,” Jones said.
“I have nothing to prove regarding my players and my support of our players. What I do want to show and want us all to be a part of is a word called ‘grace’.
“Grace. Not only grace in our actions, but grace in our understanding, where they’re coming from. I want our players to understand the perception and where they’re coming from regarding the flag and the sensitivity there and the many memories there. And I want our fans to understand, and better do, because of what’s gone on over the last few months.
“I want them to understand where our players are coming from there, and they do not feel like that the ones that want to basically do that, kneel, they do not feel like they’re dishonouring the flag. I’m going to have grace. I’ve had grace.”
Jones, who joined arms and took a knee with his team before the national anthem during a prime-time game in 2017, said he has been in contact with several powerful people over how the Cowboys should move forward with their policy.
“I have talked to literally double handfuls of very, very engaged people. I have had input from ex-presidents, I’ve had input from presidents.
“I’ve had input from a cross-section of our players, former players, and I will continue to have input. This is a very serious matter.”
Jones also discussed the value of the NFL being able to play despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Our country really does place football, whether it’s misplaced or not, at a very high level,” Jones said. “Consequently, it is important. I think it is important individually, but I think it’s important in the country.
“I know the debate going on. I can easily see how X percent of the people would be for: ‘It’s just not worth the kinds of effort, risk, whatever, that’s going to go on.’ I believe it is. The NFL can be an exciting – when I say exciting, it can be an inspirational – part of how we address COVID, not only the remainder of this year, but as we go into ’21.”
Jones is also optimistic fans will be allowed into AT&T Stadium this fall, with the new season scheduled to start on September 10.
“We have a real unique situation, and I think that we’re going to be able to really have a great experience,” he said. “I think that our safety precautions that we’re doing won’t be unfamiliar to a lot of people when we look at the general protocol of the country or we look at how you get together numbers of people.
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